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Seamless Delivery's Arrival in Midtown Met by Popcorn-Hungry Bloomberg

By DNAinfo Staff on January 10, 2012 10:28pm

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he tipped $2 on the $5 bill.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he tipped $2 on the $5 bill.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

By Jill Colvin and Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo Staff

MIDTOWN — Seamless online delivery celebrated its arrival in Midtown Tuesday, delivering Mayor Michael Bloomberg chicken soup and popcorn lunch at its new headquarters next to Bryant Park.

The website, which allows users to order from thousands of local restaurants without ever having to pick up the phone, has taken over a shiny new office on West 40th Street as part of an expansion that includes the hiring of dozens of new engineers in the coming year.

In addition to a ping-pong table, gumball machines and other start-up stylings, the office features a giant, wall-size weather map that tracks rain and snow storms  — big business boosters in the delivery market, explained Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky.

He founded the company back in 1999 an and now has partnerships with more than 8,000 restaurants, including an estimated 3,000 in Manhattan alone.

The mayor, who hailed the startup as one of the city's biggest success stories, tested out the delivery service himself, placing an order at Metro Deli for a small chicken and rice soup and an order of popcorn — “one of the basic food groups" — for a grand total of $5. He added $2 for a tip.

“If everything works as promised, I will get my food before I finish this press conference,” he said.

The move is the latest in a series of expansions by tech companies in New York City, which is angling to give Silicon Valley a run for its money. Facebook, Yelp and Twitter have all recently announced plans to expand their engineering footprints in Manhattan, with a growing hub of activity in Midtown.

“As the country’s leading food-delivery service, Seamless is proof that New York City’s digital technology industry is really booming,” said the mayor, who has made growing the tech sector a focus of his third-term agenda.

Last month Bloomberg announced plans for a massive new applied-sciences campus, which is set to be built on Roosevent Island using $100 million in city funding and free land.

Real estate experts believe Manhattan's tech boom has also provided boon to the real estate market.

While the financial sector was responsible for the most lease activity in the borough last year, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the new deals, the information and media industry was "on fire," said Joseph Harbert, Cushman & Wakefield COO of the New York Metro region.

That sector was responsible for 25 percent of the deals in Manhattan's commercial real estate market in 2011, he added.

"Information/media took up slack for the shortfall of other sectors," Harbert said.

The industry was especially active in the southern part of Midtown, which includes the tech-heavy area of the Flatiron District. Nearly 50 percent of the new leasing in that area was for information and media firms, including printing/publishing, advertising, online advertising and internet companies, Cushman & Wakefield data showed.

"Financial sector employment is likely to decline," Ken McCarthy, senior economist and senior managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, said in his outlook for the coming year. "But the good news is that technology is going to continue to grow."

The new 28,000 square-foot Seamless office is home to about 150 employees working across engineer, marketing and sales. The space is twice as large as its previous office at 232 Madison Ave., where workers were divided over four floors.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg's food order was hand delivered to the new office by Samy Elfouly, who owns the Metro Deli on West 41st Street and seemed starstruck by the experience — as well as the billionaire mayor’s taste.

“He ordered very simple things," said Elfouly, who admitted that he'd never delivered an order of popcorn before.